The accession of Donald Trump to the US presidency brings us face-to-face with a question that many have tried to avoid since 1945: Should anyone have the right to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust?
Trump, of course, is an unusually angry, vindictive, and mentally unstable American president. Therefore, given the fact that, acting totally on his own, he can launch a nuclear war, we have entered a very perilous time. The US government possesses approximately 6,800 nuclear weapons, many of them on hair-trigger alert. Moreover, the United States is but one of nine nations that, in total, possess nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons. This nuclear weapons cornucopia is more than enough to destroy virtually all life on Earth. Furthermore, even a small-scale nuclear war would produce a human catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Not surprisingly, then, Trump’s loose statements about building and using nuclear weapons have horrified observers.
In an apparent attempt to rein in America’s new, erratic White House occupant, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) recently introduced federal legislation to require Congress to declare war before a US president could authorize nuclear weapons strikes. The only exception would be in response to a nuclear attack. Peace groups are rallying around this legislation and, in a major editorial, the New York Times endorsed it, noting that it “sends a clear message to Mr. Trump that he should not be the first since World War II to use nuclear weapons.”